Of three works on this recording, the prelude (2010) and the quartet
(2010-2011) are amongst my more recent while the sonata dates back
to my NYC days being composed in 1990.
The Sonata is a in simple tertiary form with an introduction, the ABA
sections and a coda. It is not strictly in sonata-allegro form as the tonality
changes differ from classical expectations and usage. Of note is
the transformation of the first theme (Allegro, a minor) into the second
theme (Adagio, b flat minor) by way of extension of its opening interval by
a semitone (a P5th becomes a minor 6th). The same semitone used in the
main modulation from a to b flat minor. The themes otherwise resemble
themselves and are really one developed guise of the other. The piece is
introspective and hopefully inspires thought about one’s inner self.
The String Quartet No.1 is a program piece inherently connected to the
paintings of Anne Delaby. Please view the paintings when listening to each
movement, it will make more sense. In each of its seven movements, I have
tried to harmonically represent the color pallet used by the French artist.
The melodic content was chiefly inspired by their titles and I imagined a
little story for each work, literally taking pictorial elements, i.e. the Egyptian
mythological symbols in L’Alchemiste, and writing themes that would
recall, in this case, dancing serpents in the marketplace. There are musical
references to several symbols: water, matter, animals, light, birth and
death. The leitmotif of the piece is the enigma that people today are being
called upon to resolve in their rapport with nature. One which I found fascinating
and provided a reoccurring thread to all seven of the movements.
The piece is dedicated to Sir Edward Elgar and Anne Delaby.
The Prelude was written for a fellow Canadian pianist whose name, when
pronounced simply sounded to me like the first four notes. There are no
letter relationships involved, but rather it is a very tightly wound piece entirely
based on those four notes representing the syllables of the name.
They are in the harmony, the motives, intertwined in countermelodies and
developed throughout. I used harmonics during the middle section and
ultimately these suggested that I harmonize those four notes tonally. This
piece aims at combining both tonal and atonal styles in a uniform way.